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Hang In There COC

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Scene from Siegfried

I’m not a huge fan of opera. I’ve given it a couple tries, since I do really enjoy symphonic music, and of course music is a huge part of opera. But, for whatever reason, I wasn’t overly taken with either that I saw — Bizet’s Carmen and Wagner’s Die Walküre. I’m not saying opera sucks or anything like that — it is really quite a bombastic and interesting form of theatre, but overall it isn’t for me. I’ll stick to the TSO.

That being said, I’m very interested in what’s going on right now at the Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts here in Toronto. To commemorate the opening of this new opera house, the Canadian Opera Company (COC) decided to stage the largest and most elaborate opera-cycle ever written — Wagner’s full Ring Cycle. I won’t get into too much detail here about the operas — check out the above links for that — but as you can see, this is a huge undertaking, a huge event, and a huge opportunity for both the COC and the city of Toronto.

The Ring Cycle attracts opera aficionados the same way The Lord Of The Rings attracts nerds — it has a huge and loyal following around the world, and many fans will travel anywhere just to see a production of it. In order to pull it off, the COC will perform three full cycles, which amounts to four different operas a week (each clocking in at around four hours) for three weeks. This is the largest undertaking any opera company could ever do, and from all accounts it was absolutely astonishing (if you’re into this sort of thing).

However, all month the cast and crew have been ravaged by health problems and injuries — everything from diabetes to an emergency tooth extraction to broken ankles and feet. This has brought about the use of understudies in significant roles (to mixed reaction from the crowd, although overall people have been happy with the production and the acoustics at the new house), and will force lead soprano Adrianne Pieczonka to sing the role of Sieglinde from the wings while her understudy mimes the role onstage.

So hang in there COC! It’s almost over — one cycle and a bit to go. Just be careful. You don’t want anyone else getting hurt. 03971semaj


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